Lawmakers: more foreign ag land data needed

Senate Agriculture Committee members plan to take a closer look at foreign ag land ownership in the United States.

Ranking Member John Boozman tells Brownfield he would like to have a hearing on foreign ag land ownership to determine if the issue should be in the next farm bill, but nothing has been scheduled yet. He says lawmakers need more data.

“It’s hard to deal with a problem if you don’t have a good handle on it. That’s the first step in getting good numbers is knowing who owns what and what kind of involvement there is.”

South Dakota Senator John Thune is sponsoring legislation to prevent four countries from investing, purchasing or leasing American farmland. He says it’s an important conversation.

“China is trying to get a foothold everywhere around the world and the United States is no exception. I think we should view that for what it is.”

USDA’s Farm Service Agency currently oversees the implementation of the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, a nationwide system used to collect foreign ag land ownership data. FSA Associate Administrator Steve Peterson says the data on foreign ag land is not as accurate as it needs to be, because transactions aren’t always reported. He says the process needs an update.

“We know it’s important on the Hill. I think you’ll see significant changes coming up in the near future. The first change is a better reporting mechanism so when people want to see their reports on who is investing in U.S. ag land, that information will be relatively accessible.”

Foreign ag land ownership is also being discussed at the state level.

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